The Ongoing Struggle of Free vs. Fee

Elisabeth Osmeloski, managing editor at Search Engine Watch , writes in Part I of a two part article:

Does information really want to be free? If so, how can traditional information publishers and aggregators deal with shifting value propositions and revenue models of premium content and survive in the era of free web content?

She comments on a report from the fall conference of the Association of Information and Dissemination Centers (ASIDIC.org) which …

faces multiple challenges as its members struggle to adapt traditional information retrieval methods and legacy systems to the new business models arising with emerging technology.

Over the course of the two-day conference, an attendee mentioned that they thought the fear of change in the industry came from Stewart Brand’s often-quoted statement “information wants to be free.” Understandably, such a statement would be intimidating to a long established industry that has based its entire existence on the model of selling information.

In the article, the “long-tail concept” is referred to along with this about librarians …

Information discovery and accessibility is the key to producing a long tail.

To further the argument for improved information discovery, Katherine Mossman (Library Journal, July 2006) points out that in the long tail model librarians and libraries play a key role:

• Libraries act as almost limitless inventory collections
• Librarians act as search filters
• Collection management by librarians is a constant work in progress
• Statistics (usage) is a critical factor
• Institutions must be able to measure the ROI on content purchases and continue to make the right choices for their constituents

Part II of this article by Todd Malicoat, an internet marketing consultant for Stuntdubl.com can be found here.

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